Second Chance

Date Began: February 3, 2009

Dedication: for those eagerly awaiting the end of season 2 and all of season 3!

Chapter 1 Hunger Pangs

Jennifer waited, bored and watching the clock, in the jagged line that snaked through the restaurant and out the door of the inner city McDonalds. At least ten people, mostly oddly dressed teens who she eyed wearily, stood before her, and she wondered for a second what Matt and Simon would say if she returned to the car with sushi or something else equally healthy instead of the burgers and fries they'd begged her to get them. She smiled to herself at the almost wicked thought of ruining their excitement with something that contained so fewer carbs and fats than a Big Mac.

The line began to move slowly at last and as she shuffled forward an inch, Jennifer bent her head down as she almost lost her grip on the money her colleagues had given her. The coins in her hands were becoming so sweaty that they were getting all mixed up as she juggled them, trying to keep everyone's straight. She was glad that no one at Homicide was ever so petty that they'd get in a huff about maybe getting the wrong change from the lunch run. They all had bigger things to think about than being short twenty cents.

"Jennifer?" a voice sprang up out of the din of the service area and Jennifer snapped her head up at the sound of her name more so than the sound of the voice. Emma smiled back at her as she held her own bag of takeaway.

"Hi!" she replied, trying her best to sound normal and polite. It had been a good two or three months since she had seen Emma and in a way she had been grateful. After the craziness of the Bond case, Jennifer had needed some time away from everyone and everything, but in actuality this had lasted less than a week and she was back at work again, burying herself in crim to keep the demons at bay. The last person on her mind had been Emma, and for that fleeting moment they stood before each other in the midday madness of the service area, Jennifer realised that's he felt nothing at all for Emma. She didn't hate the woman, but she certainly didn't fall over herself to be friends with her either. She tried to shrug off the feeling that this was because perhaps they were competitors in some way.

After she had returned to Homicide everything had got back to normal surprisingly quickly, and Jennifer had felt like all the time she'd spent with Matt forming a bond – no pun intended – on the Bond case and then in the aftermath of Matilda and Nash's arrests had been forgotten. She could walk in and out of the office, to home, to a McDonalds, to suspects homes, to the courthouse, to the park on her morning run, and it was just like nothing had ever even happened. She knew that Matt and Emma were still together, and it confused her in a way, but she didn't move a muscle to sort it out or bring the matter up again. It just didn't feel like the right time. It didn't feel like there would ever be a time – so she just got on with her job.

Ever the optimist, Emma always managed to see only the good in people, always extending her hand to help and be polite and friendly and right then was no different, despite the fact that Jennifer and Matt now had what vaguely resembled a history. But who was to know if Emma was even aware of it? She probably wasn't, Jennifer was the only one it seemed who harboured such a secret, and so she pushed it from her mind as she shoved the coins into her pocket and smiled at the petite blonde. "Doing the lunch run are you?" Emma asked, not fazed in the slightest by the fact she'd not seen Jennifer since July.

Feeling guilty at her own lack of friendliness, Jennifer pulled herself together enough to give a reply to the one person she had never made much effort with. She nodded. "Yeah the guys actually want to eat this jun-" she stopped short when she realised she was about to criticise Emma's lunch food of choice. Emma looked down at her brown paper bag and chuckled, waving her hand in the air at Jennifer putting her foot in her mouth, not bothered in the slightest. Her easygoing nature made Jennifer feel uncomfortable with her own not so carefree nature. Things were always so crowded in Jennifer Mapplethorpe's head. She grappled with six hundred things at once, all day every day.

"Shouldn't be eating it myself!" Emma replied with another laugh. "But hey, it's Friday!" as if that made it all ok. Jennifer tried to understand her reasoning and as she did so Emma waved her a flippant goodbye. She bustled out of the restaurant and hopped quickly down the few steps that led onto the busy city streets. In moments she was lost in the crowd of shoppers and business people and Jennifer was back to waiting in line for Big Macs and French fries.

As she shuffled closer and closer to the counter she became aware of a group of teenagers in a huddle near the toilets to her left. They were almost completely obscured from view, but when she craned her neck she could see them hastily counting a lump of silver coins and a few crumpled five dollar notes. Moments later they tacked themselves onto the end of Jennifer's line and looked hungrily at the glowing menu boards above the registers. She bowed her head and turned away from them, feeling a pang she always felt for street kids and those from unfortunate backgrounds. She always wished there was more she could do.